Growing up preparing for Christmas was a lot of work, cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. But it was one that we gladly carried out because the sooner we got through with the chores, the sooner the tree would go up. Painting, getting new linoleum or rug, washing the soft drink pint bottles with a piece of cloth tied around a stick, waiting on the “Coke truck” to come by the roadside, hunting down the perfect Christmas tree with Mr. Johnny in “pine ridge”, “Entertainment Night” – our annual Christmas program at school, going window shopping in the City were all a huge part of my younger days growing up in the village.
“Adventus” – Coming
As we enter the last days of November, many are preparing for Advent. The word “Advent” originated from the Latin word adventus which simply means “coming” or “arrival”. I didn’t know much about Advent in my earlier years but several years ago, I longed for something to keep me grounded and focused as I prepared for Christmas. I realized that for many years, Christmas was about everything except Christ and when I stumbled upon the Jesse Tree Advent tradition, it was exactly what I needed for myself and also for my family. We were intentionally inviting Emmanuel into our space.
Advent usually starts on the beginning of the four Sundays and weeks before Christmas, normally starting on the last Sunday in November , sometimes starting on December 1st leading up to December 25th.
“The four Sundays of Advent each have a specific theme or focus. The purpose of each theme is to spend time reflecting on the true meaning of the season – the life of Jesus Christ. The goal should be to come before God with a sincere heart and to worship Jesus Christ.” (Source)
- Hope (or promise) Isaiah 9:2, 6-7:
- Preparation (or waiting or prophecy) Isaiah 40:3-5:
- Joy (or peace) Matthew 2:10-11
- Love (or adoration) John 3:16-19,
Jesse Tree Tradition
The Jesse Tree is now a much anticipated annual tradition in our home. It is a journey through the Bible, woven like a thread of God’s redemption plan from Genesis leading up to the birth of Christ. Events, from Adam to Christ, that show God’s hand in redeeming His people. “The Jesse Tree tradition originated in the medieval church in the form of carvings, stained glass windows, or illuminated manuscripts illustrating (literally) Isaiah 11:1: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”” (Source)
As we approach this season of Advent, the words of Charles Wesley’s hymn are still so profound:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
We find ourselves waiting in anticipation for Jesus to come, we long for a release from the struggles, we long to find rest in Him. We long for our Emmanuel.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel is an old hymn that was translated in 1861 by John Mason Neale. He translated it from the Latin hymn, “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.”
As I read the lyrics, the last two stanzas stood out to me. Take a moment to read them as well. Take note of what words stand out to you.
“O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.”
In conclusion, be sure to create pockets of time throughout your day to reflect on the meaning of this season and also how you can prepare your heart and homes for the “coming” of Jesus. Let us Invite Emmanuel into our space, into our family, our workplace, our churches, our country. He is at the door.
May all our sad divisions cease, and our darkness turn to Light in the presence of Emmanuel.
P.S. If you would like to know more about starting the Jesse Tree tradition in your own home, feel free to contact me to get started.